Raising kids is no joke and certainly not for the faint of heart. While it is easy to idealize our own childhoods – free from most screens and lots of outdoor time – it is important to recognize the world our children live in currently and adjust accordingly. While some truths never change like kindness always wins and eating your fruits and vegetables are good for you, we have to consider the ever-evolving world we live in these days. It isn’t easy, but doing the best right thing never is. 

Here at Innova Primary Care, we serve the entire family and the whole individual. We know that health is more than just the absence of disease. Health encompasses so many things from mental well-being to physical thriving. We want to see our Innova families living their best lives. Many of our healthcare providers are parents too, so we understand the complexities of navigating the current climate. So, how do we make the most of the time we have with our children? How do we successfully usher them from childhood into adulthood? Hopefully the following information can help. 

Healthy Kids

Eat well

Children tend to be picky eaters, there is simply no getting around this fact. However, this does not mean that you should not offer a variety of healthy foods at each meal time. Children need a variety of vitamins and minerals along with healthy lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats for their growing bodies. 

If your child shows no interest in healthy eating, you are not alone! Getting fruits and veggies into their diets can be a challenge. Here are some great ways to encourage healthy eating habits:

  • Get them involved in cooking. 
  • Ask them to help you with meal planning.
  • Hide veggies in plain sight.
  • Blend vegetables into sauces and soups.
  • Encourage a taste.
  • Water first.
  • Keep healthier options available and in sight.
  • Cook at home more often.
  • Don’t use food as a reward.
  • Don’t give up!

Get moving

Physical activity is vital for anyone of any age, and this is especially true for children. As we age, our needs change. For children 5 and under, daily activity is needed for healthy growth. For those ages six to seventeen, the CDC recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity including aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening.

The great news is that most children in this age range accomplish this daily. Children and adolescents are built to move and many do so throughout the day. From running and walking to jumping and climbing, kids are built for this type of activity. If you are concerned that your child isn’t getting enough movement in, there are plenty of ways to encourage activity. Team sports provide an outlet for pent up energy and allow children to learn the value of sportsmanship. Family walks or hikes get kids outside and in the joy of nature along in addition to special family time spent together. There are so many ways to get kids moving. 

Make mental health a priority

There is a mental health crisis amongst children in the United States. According to The State of Pediatric Mental Health in America 2023 report, 16% of the youth survey report at least one episode of major depressive disorder in the past year. There are more than 2 million children with severe major depression and 60% do not receive any treatment. Substance abuse is rampant and many cannot find insurance covered care for mental health needs. 

Mental health in children is a problem and it needs to be addressed. 

For parents, this can feel like an insurmountable problem and one that they may not even be aware of. Protecting our children and their mental health means paying attention to cues and inviting conversations. Here are a few tips from Mental Health America to assist parents in fostering mental and emotional health in their children:

  • Unconditional familial love. 
  • Provide safety and security.
  • Nurturing confidence and self-esteem through praise, honesty, and encouragement.
  • Providing opportunities for play.
  • Guidance and instruction.
  • Firm and gentle discipline.

If you feel like your child is suffering from mental and emotional health challenges, please reach out to Innova. We can assist you in finding mental health providers who work with children and can address their unique needs. You don’t have to go at this alone. You are not a failure as a parent if you don’t have the resources within yourself and your family to address the mental and emotional health needs of your children. Sometimes the wisest thing you can do as a parent is to reach out and see counsel.

Healthy Kids

Limit screen time

The digital age is upon us, and there is no turning back. However, limiting access to certain platforms and being vigilant with what your child engages with online is a must for every parent. Encourage connections. Let them feel!